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Extended Audio Sample Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, by Portia de Rossi Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (18,378 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Portia de Rossi Narrator: Portia de Rossi Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . .”


Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work—first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development,Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The path de Rossi took to her happy ending is well worth reading about: her story is a cautionary tale, an inspiration, and a triumph.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Breathtakingly honest, brutal and beautiful.”

    Jonathan Safran Foer

  • “De Rossi tells her story with genuine insight and unflinching honesty. You will cheer her on.”

    Jeannette Walls

  • “Possibly the best book on the subject ever written. De Rossi is the real deal, a fine writer with a sharp mind and substance. This rich, layered book of remarkable courage, power, and significance will serve as life-changing inspiration for many.”

    Augusten Burroughs

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jane | 2/16/2014

    " The book was both amazing and greatly unsettling. It certainly opened my eyes to what an eating disorder looks like, what thoughts appear in a girl's head, what kind of obsession it is. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joe | 2/16/2014

    " A thought provoking read that puts life into perspective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Estelle | 2/10/2014

    " Beautifully honest and insightful. A disturbingly raw read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jennifer | 2/9/2014

    " I tried to read this book last Christmas when I received it as a gift but I couldn't get more than a couple chapters into it. I'm not sure why, maybe it was the writing style or maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time to read a book about such heavy subject matter. Well, I'm glad I gave it another shot. The author was brutally honest about her struggles with not only her eating disorder but the fact that she is gay and how difficult it was to be a celebrity with these issues. I was very happy to read about her recovery and the fact that she was finally able to find a loving supportive relationship with Ellen. "

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